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Obama administration linking social justice to 'green job'
Became a Communist in the aftermath of the 1992 "Rodney King riots" in Los Angeles
Founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996
Was active in the anti-Iraq War demonstrations organized by International ANSWER
Served as a board member of the Rainforest Action Network and Free Press
In March 2009, President Barack Obama named Jones to be his so-called "Green Jobs Czar."
Born in 1968 in rural West Tennessee, Van Jones earned a B.A. degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and then attended Yale Law School. During his years at Yale, Jones served as an intern with the San Francisco-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), which views the United States as an irredeemably racist nation and "champions the legal rights of people of color, poor people, immigrants and refugees, with a special commitment to African-Americans."Jones says that he first became politically radicalized in the aftermath of the deadly April 1992 Los Angeles riots which erupted shortly after four L.A. police officers who had beaten the infamous Rodney King were exonerated in court. "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th," says Jones, who is black, "and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist."Jones was arrested during the L.A. riots and spent a short time in jail. "I met all these young radical people of color," he recalls, "I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary."After earning his Juris Doctorate from Yale in 1993, Jones relocated to San Francisco, where he helped establish Bay Area PoliceWatch, a hotline and lawyer-referral service that began as a project of LCCR. In 1996 he founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which, claiming that the American criminal-justice system is infested with racism, seeks to promote alternatives to incarceration. According to the Baker Center:
"Decades of disinvestment in our cities have led to despair and hopelessness. For poor communities and communities of color it's even worse, as excessive, racist policing and over-incarceration have left people even further behind."
By the late 1990s, Jones was a committed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist who viewed police officers as the arch-enemies of black people, and who loathed capitalism for allegedly exploiting nonwhite minorities worldwide. He became a leading member of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a now-defunct Bay Area Marxist-Maoist collective that was staffed by members of various local nonprofits, a number of whom had ties to the Ella Baker Center.In the early 2000s, Jones and STORM were active in the anti-Iraq War demonstrations organized by International ANSWER, a front group for the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party. STORM also had ties to the South African Communist Party and it revered Amilcar Cabral, the late Marxist revolutionary leader (of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands) who lauded Lenin as "the greatest champion of the national liberation of the peoples." (In 2006 Van Jones would name his own newborn son "Cabral" -- in Amilcar Cabral's honor.)During his tenure with STORM, Jones collaborated on numerous projects (including antiwar demonstrations) with local activist Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez, who served as a "mentor" for members of the Ella Baker Center. Martinez was a longtime Maoist who went on to join the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), a Communist Party USA splinter group, in the early 1990s. To this day, Martinez continues to sit on the CCDS advisory board alongside such luminaries as Angela Davis, Timuel Black (who served on Barack Obama's 2004 Senate campaign committee), and musician Pete Seeger. Martinez is also a board member of the Movement for a Democratic Society, the parent organization of Progressives for Obama. Martinez and Van Jones together attended a "Challenging White Supremacy" workshop which advanced the theme that "all too often, the unconscious racism of white activists stands in the way of any effective, worthwhile collaboration" with blacks.In 2005 Jones and the Ella Baker Center produced the "Social Equity Track" for the United Nations' World Environment Day celebration, a project that eventually would evolve into the Baker Center's Green-Collar Jobs Campaign -- "a job-training and employment pipeline providing 'green pathways out of poverty' for low-income adults in Oakland."Soon after attending the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2007, Jones launched "Green For All," a non-governmental organization "dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty … advocating for local, state and federal commitment to job creation, job training, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy - especially for people from disadvantaged communities."In 2008 Jones published his first book, The Green Collar Economy, which focused on environmental and economic issues. The book received favorable reviews from such notables as Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Winona LaDuke, environmentalist Paul Hawken, and NAACP President/CEO Ben Jealous.Jones has served as a board member of numerous environmental and nonprofit organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network; Free Press; Bioneers (which accepts the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Report's warning that "[h]uman activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted"); the National Apollo Alliance (which seeks "to catalyze a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs"); the Social Venture Network (which aims "to build a just economy and sustainable planet"); and Julia Butterfly Hill's "Circle of Life" environmental foundation.Jones was also a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress and a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
In March 2009, President Barack Obama named Jones to be his so-called "Green Jobs Czar." Jones' formal title is "Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation" for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.In a July 2009 interview with Newsweek magazine, Jones said he could not explain exactly what a "green job" is:
"Well, we still don't have a unified definition, and that's not unusual in a democracy. It takes a while for all the states and the federal government to come to some agreement. But the Department of Labor is working on it very diligently. Fundamentally, it's getting there, but we haven't crossed the finish line yet."
The communist organisation Van jones went on to lead was called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM).According to the leftist blog Machete 48Returning to Van Jones, with all the shimmer associated with a rising star, many forget that a man now advising the president was a member of a revolutionary organization in the SF Bay Area called STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement). Throughout the group’s history, Van Jones was seen as a public figure within the Bay Area left and a leading member of STORM. STORM had its roots in a grouping of people of color organizing against he Gulf War in the early 1990’s and was formally founded in 1994. The group’s politics had a number of influences, but evolved towards what could be best characterized as third worldist Marxism (and an often vulgar Maoism). The group grew in influence until its disbanding in 2002 amid problems of internal dynamics and especially controversy around the leadership roles that members played in the youth movement (such as the fight against Proposition 21). Nearly the entire membership of the organization was staff members for various social movement non-profits in the Bay Area, many linked to the Ella Baker Center, which Van Jones steered.While never large, STORM was one of the most influential and active radical groups in the Bay Area, controlling numerous front organisations including Bay Area Police Watch, one of several anti police activities Jones was involved in.Van Jones right, "interacting" with San Francisco policeOther STORM fronts included a Marxist training organisation-School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and an unemployed rights group-People Organized to Win Employment Rights(POWER). Jones and STORM were also very active in the anti Iraq War demonstrations of the early 2000s.Jones supporting International ANSWER-a front for the pro North Korean Workers World PartyWhile way out on the left STORM also worked with "mainstream" communists.Bay Area left identity Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez was close to Jones and helped "mentor" his Ella Baker Human Rights Center.Betita MartinezMartinez was a long time Maoist who went on to join the Communist Party USA breakaway organisation Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)in the early 1990s.Martinez still serves on the CCDS advisory board alongside radicals such as Angela Davis, Timuel Black (a personal friend of Barack Obama who served on his 2004 Senate campaign committee) and musician Pete Seeger (who performed at Obama's Washington Inauguration Concert.Martinez is also a board member of Movement for a Democratic Society, the radical parent body of Progressives for Obama.Martinez and Jones worked together on several projects including attending a Challenging White Supremacy workshop which much impressed Jones;“To solve the new century's mounting social and environmental problems, people of color activist and white activists need to be able to join forces. But all too often, the unconscious racism of white activists stands in the way of any effective, worthwhile collaboration. The Challenging White Supremacy Workshop is the most powerful tool that I have seen for removing the barriers to true partnerships between people of color and white folks. If the CWS trainings were mandatory for all white activists, the progressive movement in the United States would be unstoppable.”They also both worked together with another STORM member Adam Gold on the organizing committee for anti Iraq War newspaper War Times.STORM also had ties to the South African Communist Party, with three "core" comrades attending the SACP Congress in 1998.STORM also very much admired Amilcar Cabral the late revolutionary leader of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde IslandsAmilcar Cabral rightSTORM may have learned about Amilcar Cabral from the SACP which also revered him.A tribute to Cabral from the SACP's African Communist, No. 53, second quarter 1973. "How is it that we, a people deprived of everything, living in dire straits, manage to wage our struggle and win successes? Our answer is: this is because Lenin existed, because he fulfilled his duty as a man, a revolutionary and a patriot. Lenin was and continues to be, the greatest champion of the national liberation of the peoples." These were the words addressed to the delegates attending the seminar on "Lenin and National Liberation" held at Alma Ata, capital of Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan, in 1970 by Amilcar Cabral, Secretary-General of the PAIGC, who met his death on 20th January 1973 at Conakry, Guinea, at the hands of a traitor, Innocenta Canida, an agent of the Portuguese colonialists who had infiltrated into the ranks of the movement three years ago. These words reflect the revolutionary thinking and life-work of this utterly dedicated patriot, outstanding African revolutionary of our time and the father of the new independent sovereign State of Guinea in the process of birth. It was the cognition of the scientific theory of revolution, of Marxism-Leninism, to which he was introduced by his contacts with the Portuguese Communist Party during his student days in Lisbon which was to combine within him, in the words of the statement of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party, "a deep understanding of the processes of the African revolution with an untiring devotion to practical struggle." Van Jones has named his three year old son Cabral-in honor of his hero.Jones reportedly uses a quote from Cabral in every email he sends; “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories. . . . Our experience has shown us that in the general framework of daily struggle this battle against ourselves, this struggle against our own weaknesses . . . is the most difficult of all.”Is Van Jones living up to that quote?Is Van Jones hiding "nothing from the masses of our people"?Obama file 73 here